Governors of Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia Announce Major Bipartisan Interstate Compact For Three Million Rapid Antigen Tests
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a major bipartisan interstate compact with the Rockefeller Foundation to expand the use of rapid point-of-care antigen tests to slow the spread of COVID-19 and continue safely reopening the states.
As the nation continues to face severe testing shortages and delays, this is the first interstate testing compact of its kind among governors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Hogan, in his final days as chair of the National Governors Association, negotiated the compact with the Rockefeller Foundation. The initial agreement includes six governors--three Republicans and three Democrats--and additional states, cities, and local governments may join the compact in the coming days and weeks.
By banding together, the states are demonstrating to private manufacturers that there is significant demand to scale up the production of these tests, which deliver results in 15-20 minutes. With today's agreement, the states are in discussions with Becton Dickinson and Quidel--the U.S. manufacturers of antigen tests that have already been authorized by the FDA--to purchase 500,000 tests per state, for a total of three million tests.
Through this interstate compact, states are coming together to ramp up the use of rapid antigen testing to help better detect outbreaks more quickly, and expand long-term testing in congregate settings such as schools, workplaces, and nursing homes.
"This bipartisan partnership will help us protect our families, the heroes on the front lines of this crisis, small businesses, and our most vulnerable communities," said Governor Whitmer. "Widespread testing is one of the most crucial tools we have to stop the spread of this virus and save lives. I'm proud of the bipartisan work governors across the state have done to protect our regions from COVID-19. I'm hopeful that the president and Congress will follow our lead and work together on a recovery package that includes support for states like ours so we can continue to protect our families."
MDHHS Releases Guidance on Use of Medicare-certified Beds for Medicaid Beneficiaries
In March, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) issued provisions to allow providers to use Medicare-certified beds for Medicaid beneficiaries without first submitting a bed certification request. Today, MDHHS issued additional guidance on the use of these beds in L 20-44, identifying process and a spreadsheet for use in reporting use of a Medicare certified bed for a Medicaid resident, as well as guidance on the use of non-available beds without prior approval.
MDHHS Shares Updated Guidance for Nursing Facility DCW Wage Increase & Reporting
The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) recently released updated guidance and FAQs for the Direct Care Worker (DCW) wage increase and nursing facility COVID data reporting.
The updated DCW FAQs includes a clarification on reimbursement for required COVID testing, sharing that facilities may submit for reimbursement initial testing costs that occurred as early as Governor Whitmer's declaration of state of emergency (March 10, 2020).
The updated Reporting FAQs include resources for ensuring the most up to data definitions and information, guidance on new staff being tested during the onboarding process, and resources for correcting incorrect NHSN data.
Both documents have the updated information highlighted for easy reference.
Medicaid Adjusts QAS Payments
Michigan Medicaid has sent through file transfer - Archived Documents - a notice to nursing facilities regarding a reduction in the current QAS payment amounts. This adjustment to the payments is due to the changes in the QAAP rates as prior reported and the drop in Medicaid days of care. As census has dropped due to the pandemic along with the increase utilization of Medicare services the current year payments were maybe over estimated because it is based on historical data. For some facilities this has caused an overpayment to the nursing facility which is usually reconciled each January. The current payment adjustments for August and September 2020 will assist in correcting the overpayment. HCAM recommends that members perform an internal reconciliation of their QAS payments from October 2019 to date. This will provide the facility with an estimate of any potential overpayment or underpayment. Members should see reduced QAAP bills for the months of August and September along with the reduction in the QAS payment.
Questions about the provider tax program can be emailed to Pat at email@example.com.
Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Directive Strengthening Enforcement of COVID-19 Orders
Governor Whitmer signed Executive Directive 2020-08 today to direct state departments and autonomous agency heads to review allocation of their resources to ensure that enforcement of COVID-19-related laws is a priority. The governor's directive requires state departments and agencies to ensure that enforcement of COVID-19-related laws receives the priority that fighting a pandemic demand. Under the directive, directors and agency heads should assign elevated priority to enforcement of COVID-19-related laws in categories of establishments where transmission is well-documented, including but not limited to nursing homes.
President Trump Grants Governor Whitmer's Request to Extend Michigan National Guard Through December 31 to Assist With COVID-19
This morning, President Trump granted Governor Whitmer's request he authorize the use of Michigan National Guard forces for COVID-19 response through December 31, 2020. Title 32 authority, which allows Guard members to receive federal pay and benefits, was previously set to expire on August 21 due to a deadline set by the Trump Administration.
The extension will allow the National Guard to continue its response and support to emergency measures during the pandemic in Michigan. The Michigan National Guard has been a crucial part of emergency response, from conducting testing and screening, distributing personal protective equipment, and assisting at food banks across the state, with the extension supporting their continued work.
Trump Administration Proposes to Expand Telehealth Benefits Permanently for Medicare Beneficiaries Beyond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing changes to expand telehealth permanently, consistent with the Executive Order on Improving Rural and Telehealth Access that President Trump signed today. The Executive Order and proposed rule advance efforts to improve access and convenience of care for Medicare beneficiaries. Additionally, the proposed rule implements a multi-year effort to reduce clinician burden under the Patients Over Paperwork initiative and to ensure appropriate reimbursement for time spent with patients. This proposed rule also takes steps to implement President Trump's Executive Order on Protecting and Improving Medicare for our Nation's Seniors and continues our commitment to ensure that the Medicare program is sustainable for future generations.
For questions or concerns please contact Cathy Sunlin at CathySunlin@HCAM.org.
Aug. 4, 2020